Technology

You, the ‘police-ing’ citizen

By Karamjit Singh
May 09, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, May 9 — Market research firm GfK Asia, which focuses on consumer electronics, released its smartphone estimate for South-East Asia at the end of last month. What really caught my eye was the 88 per cent smartphone penetration in Malaysia.

Like, really? OK, that is a “wow” in my books.

 It also immediately made me think back to a comment made by Khudsia Kahar, vice president of Corporate Strategy & Industry Development at AMP Radio Networks, who spoke at the Malaysian Media Congress on April 2.

She noted that out of the 15 million Malaysians who listened to the radio every week, 25 per cent did so through their smartphones. As a consequence, AMP has started to think of radio in terms of eyeballs, too. Oh, ear drums still matter.

Now, adding to the rising influence of smartphones as the pre-eminent digital device in Malaysia is some data shared with me on by Lam Swee Kim, group general manager, New Media & Integrated Marketing of Media Prima.

When Media Prima launched a mobile version of its tonton.com.my video portal last September, access to the site through mobile doubled in each of the first three months. Today, 25 per cent of weekday page-views comes via mobile devices, be it smartphones or tablets.

That is 100,000 page-views a day out of 400,000. The 25 per cent accessing video content through their mobile devices, be it a tablet or smartphone, apparently makes Malaysia among the world leaders. Impressive.

So we know what to do with our mobiles. We are also getting better at using our mobile’s multimedia capabilities to record and take shots of everyday life, and the occasional weekend rally or sit-in. And we are about to get better at it.

I saw a short announcement in a newspaper where a state assemblyman is organising a two-day course on video and documentary making. Mr Elected Official, expect some attendees to show up with nothing more than their smartphones. And don’t scoff.

The GkF report also revealed that smartphones which are equipped with advanced camera features were gaining in popularity with 58 per cent of smartphones sold in Malaysia equipped with cameras of eight megapixel or more. In Singapore it was 67 per cent. (Hmm, what are our neighbours up to?)

That caught me by surprise. While I myself am eyeing an upcoming phone model with advanced camera features and high-definition video, I at least have an excuse. I am a journalist and need it to take super shots of the people I interview. What’s your reason Mr and Madam 58 per cent?

I actually have a sneaky feeling we are about to see the end of personal privacy and anonymity as we know it. How ironic that it won’t be because of Big Brother but rather my fellow brothers and sisters!

The phones will be out in a split second next time someone does something out of the ordinary, usually of the embarrassing kind. Next thing you know, you’re a (reluctant) YouTube star. Remember that rant by the “aunty” at the Hong Kong airport who missed her flight?

But I guess it is not all bad. Citizen policing will become the norm. If you are the first car at a traffic light, just switch on the recorder and you are sure to catch the last two to three cars from the opposite site racing across to beat a red light.

That’s right, we Malaysians have advanced beyond beating the yellow light. Just send the 10-second clip to the PRDM website and share in the revenue of the saman government will collect. Some nice kopi money for you. Government will just have to tweak some laws to make this possible.

As for me, I believe that cleanliness is next to godliness. I will be out taking clips of all the dirty spots in Petaling Jaya (usually right around those insulting Zone Bersih signs) and sending them to the mayor for his prompt action. What civil action would you take to help police your city?

* Karamjit Singh is founder and CEO of Digital News Asia a digital publication covering the tech ecosystem that will go “live” in May. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter.